Revisit The Shady Palm and discover the Flamingo

I can’t believe how fast this weekend has gone. It’s been lovely weather for winter. It’s been really hot during the day, so no needs for jackets and tights. I have been trying to get as much Vitamin D as I can, hoping it will make up the weekdays. It was also perfect weather for brunch. Over the weekend we revisited The Shady Palm Cafe for lunch and tried another new discovery Flamingo Cafe for Sunday breakfast.???????????????????????????????

This was our third visit to The Shady Palm Cafe, however it was our first for lunch. When we arrived it was just as busy and bustling as usually. We already knew what we were ordering. For lunch they have two vegan options, one shared dish and one main. I didn’t know what to order, so I had to order both. I ordered the Crispy Plantain and Peanut Fritters with Mojo and the Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, black beans and corn salsa. Marco ordered the Handcut Fried Potatoes with Chipotle Mayo and three Sliders with different meats fillings.

Crispy Plaintain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

Crispy Plantain & Peanut Fritters with Mojo

These fritters were really delicious. I don’t know how to describe the flavor, because I this was the first time I have tried plantain. I think was the sweet tomato sauce was the ‘mojo’, This sauce was amazing and really brought the dish alive. Marco really liked these fritters too. We definitely would order these again.

Fried Okra Tacos with chimmichurri, ranch, blackbean and corn salsa

Fried Okra Tacos with Chimmichurri, ranch, black bean and corn salsa

Handcut Fried Potatoes

Handcut Fried Potatoes

I really loved my main dish. Like the fritters, it was like nothing I have had before. I was expecting hard shelled tacos, like you get out of the box. But this was a nice surprise. I am a big fan of okra, but I have only used it with Asian dishes before. All the flavors of the components went really well together. The potatoes were also great accompaniment too. They mayo wasn’t vegan, but they were great without that anyway. It was actually meant to accompany Marcos sliders, but I can never say no to hot chips. Its my one weakness which I have never been able to kick. So we had a great experience yet again at The Shady Palm Cafe. Although they only have a couple of vegan options, they were good enough for me to come back especially for.

This morning for brunch we decided to try somewhere we haven’t been before. I’m not sure how I found out about Flamingo Cafe. They were listed as vegan friendly, so we had to go and check them out. They are in Fortitude Valley, just off the main shopping strip on Ann Street, in a tiny side street. They are surrounded by shops with independent designers and alternative fashion. We decided to sit inside since it was extremely sunny and were greeted by really friendly waitresses. The decor was really quirky and retro, from the vibrant pineapple wallpaper to the artdeco chandeliers. It is like no other cafe in Brisbane. I have read many review from others who say its their favorite hangover cafe, but I’m not sure I would want be hungover in a place like this. However, being sober I really enjoyed the visual appeal of this little oasis.

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The menu is not very long, but it does change regularly and they have daily specials. I was happy to see a vegan option that didn’t have to be altered. I ordered the Slow Cooked Beans with English Spinach, Herb Salt and Toast. Marco ordered the MSA Minute Steak with Caramelized onions, Fried F.R Egg, tarragon mayo, tomato relish and Rocket. I also ordered the Flamingo Ice Tea to drink.

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My slow cooked beans included a variety of beans, including lima, chickpeas and cannelini beans, with lots of fresh herbs. It was really nice. The only thing I would say is that I would of liked the flavor of the tomato stronger and pack more of a punch. Luckily I had plenty of sea salt to add. The bread was really nice and crispy and the serve was really generous. The signature Flamingo Ice Tea was really amazing. The flavor of  mint, lemon and ginger were really strong and made this drink really memorable. I usually get a coffee, but it was nice to have something so refreshing. Marco was quite happy with his dish. I have to say that his caramelized onions were pretty good. Overall it was a good experience and I would go back with friends. Only con was that the parking in that area is a bit risky and mostly a tow away zone.

After brunch we went over to one of Marco’s new discoveries, Flour and Chocolate. His friend took him last week for Cronuts. Even though I couldn’t eat anything there he wanted to get something for the ‘kids’ (his nieces and nephew). It really is a lovely little patisserie. While we were there I asked the owner about vegan options. She told us about the amazing baguettes and sourdough loafs they do in many different flavors throughout the week. So I don’t Marco visiting them during the week, so long as he brings me some crispy French bread. While he was choosing treats for the ‘kids’ I spotted something I haven’t seen before, Organic Bread Flour. Looking forward to making some focaccia or cinnamon scrolls very soon.

DSC06563The last thing I wanted to share was the most creamy guilty free vegetable pasta I made a couple of nights ago. I had heaps of cooked bucatini leftover and I was craving something creamy. It was also a great way to use a heap of green veggies that had been neglected in my fridge. I also made a cherry tomato foccacia with left over pizza dough. However I wasn’t too happy with it, since it was more like a biscuit then a pizza bread. It wasn’t thick enough and over cooked. I will try this again soon and include the recipe. Its something I really miss that I use to eat really often as a quick lunch in Milan.

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Creamy Pasta Primavera (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 serves of long pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1 cup cashews (soaked or raw)

1 cup water,

1 cup frozen/fresh broad beans (and/or peas)

olive oil

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 large zucchini, sliced in batons

1 bunch asparagus, chopped half

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

3 leaves of curly kale, without stems, sliced

1/2 tsp nutmeg (more to taste)

1/2 almond milk

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t pre-soaked your cashews, boil for 10 mins. Put in high speed blender and break down cashews, then gradually add water till you get cashew cream.

2. In the meantime boil the broad beans for 5 minutes. Then remove from hot water, rinse to cool down, then remove skin. Put to the side.

3. Heat large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.

4. Add zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes. ???????????????????????????????

5. Add asparagus and wine. Let the wine absorb and continue to saute until the zucchini and asparagus are tender.

6. Add kale and sea salt. Saute for a minute so that the kale is no longer dry and is bright green in color.???????????????????????????????

7. Add the broad beans, cashew cream and almond milk (add more if cashew cream sticks to pan). Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Cook until the cashew cream and almond milk combine and become nice and creamy.

8. Add the cooked hot pasta to the sauce and coat in the sauce and serve

*Serves 3

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Bucatini all’amatriciana and Verdure grigliate

The past couple of days Marco and I have been going into work really early. When I say early I meet leaving the house at 6 am. It wouldn’t be so bad if I went to bed a little early and didn’t get woken up by students showering at 3 am and getting up to turn off the fridge beeping twice around 4 am every night. Strangely enough once I get up I actually feel pretty good. Yesterday we decided to have an early breakfast at a local cafe near my work. While we were waiting for our meals I lrg_2400was flicking through an old addition of Jamie Olives Magazine from April/May 2010. Marco was looking over my shoulder and when I went past Jamie’s Bucatini all’amatriciana he snatched the magazine and said I am making this tonight!

Considering he only knows how to cook eggs and toast I was surprised about his enthusiasm. Then I realized that it was because he wanted this dish because it had meat. He knows there no chance I was going to make something with Pancetta. Besides the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore, I also remember the sweet delicious flavor of Italian pancetta and proscuitto and quite frankly its still too temping for me to prepare for someone else.

Later that afternoon we went to the supermarket on Marco’s mission to buy Pancetta. We went to two big supermarkets and once we finally found it I managed to talk him out of it. From a health persective I don’t understand why ingredients like gluten, soy, lactose, sodium nitrate, glucose, preservatives, etc, need to be included. Italian hams do not include any of this. So after scrutinizing the ingredients he agreed to go with my promise of making a vegan alternative.img30l

Bucatini all’amatricana is famous traditional dish from the region of Lazio in Italy. L’amatriciana (matriciana in Roman dialect) gets it’s name from the Italian town Amatrice, Lazio. The dish is made from the ingredients typical of Lazio, cured pork jaws (Guanciale di maiale), pecorino cheese, and tomatoes.

L’amatriciana is actually derived from another older dish, La gricia. This is also one of the most famous Italian dishes from the same region. This dish is considered its ancestor, as it predates the importation of tomatoes to Europe. La gricia is also made with cured pork jaws and pecorino cheese. It is  believed that it was named after the Grici, who use sell bread and groceries to the Romans. The were perhaps called Grici because they had emigrated from the Swiss canton of Grisons. Alternatively it is thought that the dish was named after the hamlet of Grisciano, which is in a comune of Accumoli, near Amatrice.Apicius_1709

Tomatoes were not introduced to Europe until the 18th century. In fact the first written record of tomatoes being used as a sauce with pasta was from the 1790 cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. The L’amatriciana later became one of the most famous sauces during the 19th to early 20th century in Rome. This was perhaps because of its close proximity  between Rome and Amatrice. Thus, it became a classic dish of Roman Cuisine. Although La gricia is still prepared throughout central Italy, the L’amatriciana is more well known throughout and outside of Italy.

The recipe of the sauce does vary throughout Lazio. The main ingredients are pork jaws, tomato and pecorino and olive oil. are always used, Olive oil is generally used, but some recipes call for strutto (canned pork lard) instead. The cheese type of pecorino cheese used is Pecorino romano or Pecorino amatriciano. Other ingredients such as black pepper or chili pepper, onion (not used in Amatrice)  and garlic are also acceptable.bucatini

This dish is typically prepared with Bucatini pasta. This is a thick long pasta with a hole through the center. The name is derived from the Italian word ‘buco’ meaning ‘hole’. This type of pasta is very common throughout Rome and Lazio. It is made of hard durum wheat flour and water. It usually takes about nine mintues to cook and is often served with buttery sauces, pork jaws (guanciale), pancetta, vegetables, cheese, eggs, anchovies or sardines. This dish is also typically prepared with Rigatoni or other dry pastas, but never fresh pasta.

I remember that we did eat this pasta somewhere when we were in Italy, so I was going back through my photos and found these (below). This is in a restaurant in Trastevere, Rome. We ordered Bucatini all’amatriciana, Patate arroste and Polla alla Romana. The pasta was definitely the best part.

Rome

So how to make this vegan? I used tempeh as a meat substitute. This is my favorite thing to substitute bacon, meatballs and sausages. To give it the smokey taste I used liquid smoke. After marinating the tempeh and frying it it really did have that smoked meat flavour. Then with the wine and tomatoes and really helped it come together as a delicious sauce. Marco loved this dish and said he was happy to have this instead. He was a bit worried while I was cooking it but once he tried my sauce he was very pleased.

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Bucatini all’amatriciana (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

150g Tempeh pancetta (ingredients below)

1 red chili, diced

6-7 small tomatoes, diced

1 can good quality Polpa (Italian diced tomato pulp)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

4 serves of Bucatini/gf long pasta (400 g)

Ingredients for Tempeh Pancetta (150 g):

2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp agave

sea salt to taste

Method:

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1. First make the Tempeh Pancetta. Slice the tempeh into thin strips, then slice it the other way so they you have small strips. Place the tempeh in a bowl and drizzle liquid smoke, soy sauce, agave and sea salt. Toss through so that it coats all the tempeh. Leave to marinate at least 10 minutes.

2. Bring a small pot to the boil, then drop in the whole tomatoes. Boil for 1 minute or until the skin slighly brakes. Then remove them from the water and plunge into ice water. Peep the tomatoes, remove the seeds then dice the flesh.

3. Heat a large pan or pot with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Fry for 3 minutes or until translucent.???????????????????????????????

4. Then add Tempeh Pancetta and fry for another 5 minutes.???????????????????????????????

5. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates. Should take about 5 minutes.

6. Add the diced tomatoes, chili and can of polpa. Fill the half the can with water and add that to the pan as well.

7. Season generously with sea salt and bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer and leave to cook for 30 minutes.

8. Before the sauce is ready cook the pasta in boiling salty water, until al dente. Then move the pasta from the water straight into the hot sauce. Toss through and serve with cracked black pepper.

*Serves 4

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On the side I made grilled vegetables. This is also something we ate a lot in Italy as contorni (side dish). Although I was still eating meat back then, I still craved vegetables. So simple to prepare and really delicious!

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Verdure grigliate (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

sea salt to taste

1 eggplant

2 bunches asparagus

2 zucchini (any other vegetables you like)

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. First slice the eggplant into thin strips and then halve again if you like. Add salt onto the eggplant and leave for at least 10 minutes to remove the bitterness. After wipe off the moisture and the salt from the eggplant.

2. In the meantime prepare the rest of the vegetables. Chop the zucchini in half, then slice into thin strips. Remove the woody end of the asparagus then chop in half and slice in half again, so they are thin and long.

3. Brush the griddle pan with olive oil and heat. Brush the vegetables with olive oil, then add in batches to the griddle pan. All the vegetables have difference cooking time, between 2-5 minutes. I cooked the eggplant first and brushed with extra oil while they cooked if there were dry parts. Then I cooked the zucchini and asparagus in batches.Season with sea salt while cooking or after the vegetables are cooked to serve

*Serves 4

Amatriciana, 2013 <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amatriciana>

Bucatini, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucatini>

Jamie Magazion 2010 April/May 2010, Amatriciana Pasta Sauce, 2010 <http://www.icanhascook.com/amatriciana-pasta-sauce/>

National Bacon Week – Bucatini Amatriciana, 2013 <http://www.loverofcreatingflavours.co.uk/category/features/food/vegetables-food/grow-your-own/herbs-grow-your-own/parsley/>

Sugo all’amatriciana, 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugo_all’amatriciana>

Pizza, Soup and a Chocolate Berry Breakfast Suprise

A  couple of nights ago we got invite out to dinner with some friends. But with the rainy weather and my cold feet about going somewhere that didn’t cater to me, we decided invited them over for homemade pizzas. We had some leftover pizza dough so last night I made the most delicious pizza with a few simple ingredients. This wasn’t the main event but to accompany this Red Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup.

For breakfast I prepared the most delicious overnight oats. I included a few extra healthy ingredients such as cacao, maca, chia seeds and goji berries.  I nice to be able to have guilt free chocolate oats for breakfast.

Just as I was writing this post, I got a call about a job. I’m going in for an interview tomorrow. I only send in an application yesterday to them for a different job, but they liked my previous work experience in mentoring and in a call centre. Fingers crossed they hire me!

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Browned Onion and Garlic Pizza (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

pizza dough for 1 pizza (wholemeal or gluten free)

1 large brown onion, thinly sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more to brush pizza)

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tablespoon fresh/dried rosemary

sea salt & black pepper to tasteDSC05454

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Heat a large pan with olive oil, then add the onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until onion has softened, but not browned (Its best to use a nonstick pan for this).

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3. In the meantime roll out pizza dough and place into a pizza pan/stone. Brush base with olive oil. (If you are using a pizza pan brush that with oil before placing the pizza ontop, so that the base will brown)

4. Take pan off the heat, then add garlic and stir though the onion.

5. Top pizza with the onion and garlic. Then sprinkle some rosemary, sea salt and black pepper.

6. Bake pizza for 15 mins or until the base is cooked and the onions are lightly browned.

*Makes 1 pizza

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Red Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 swede, diced

2 parsnips, diced

2 red skinned potatoes, diced

1 sweet potato, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 cups vegetable/vegan chicken liquid stock

sea salt to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add the vegetables and spices. Saute for a couple of minutes.

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2. Add the liquid stock and bring to the boil, then cover and place on a simmer. Cook for 20 mins or until the vegetables begin to soften.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the red lentils and sea salt if you need. Continue to cook covered on a simmer, until both the lentils have cooked and the vegetable are completely cooked.

4. Take off the heat and puree the soup with a bar mix, until you have the desired consistency. If the soup is too thick add some filtered water to thin it out.

5. Reheat on the stove to you are ready to serve.

*Serves 6

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Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant/rolled oats, preferably organic

3/4 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat;  almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1/2 cup mixed frozen berries

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1/2 tablespoon maca powder (optional)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1.5  tablespoon maple syrup (I used blueberry maple syrup)

1 teapsoon goji berries to serve

1 teaspoon cacao nibs to serve DSC05483

Method:

1. Combine the oats, milk, frozen berries, cacao, maca, chia seeds and maple syrup in an airtight container and stir to combine all.

2. Seal the container and place in the fridge over night.

3. In the morning serve with goji berries and cacao nibs. If you don’t have these any other dried fruit, nuts and/or dark chocolate chips would go nice. If the consistency of the oats is too thick add a dash of milk.

*Serves 1

A little bit British

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies. I’ve never been a big pie eater, preferring to eat pasta then Aussie Beef Pies and Sausage Rolls. I have always equated meat pies to unhealthiness and thought it to be more like a tradey’s food. My mothers ex-husband was a tradey, so meat pies and ice coffees were a typical daily lunch from the snack truck. But since I have stopped eating meat I have been open to look at foods like this in a different light. So when I saw this product on sale at Coles, I thought I would give it a go.

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This is not a meat pie, but rather more like a vegan version of a mushroom & chicken pie. Mushroom & Chicken Pie is a British classic and is one of the most popular pies in Great Britain. It has pastry on the top and bottom, the top being puff pastry and the center holds the chicken and mushroom in a nice creamy sauce. They are commonly bought from fish and chip shops across the country. Pies-Box-Country-Mush

So after trying out Fry’s Country Mushroom Pies I think I would definitely purchase it again. I made this dinner for Marco, my mother and her partner Ted and they all really liked it the pie. They all said they liked the puff pasty top and the pie filling was nice and creamy and tasted just like it had meat in it. I thought it was good too. Only thing I can say was there wasn’t that much filling. The picture on the box and on the website makes it look really full, but it doesn’t all ooze out when you cut it. However, I think if it was really full it may have been too much and I would of felt too heavy after eating it. The pastry top was also really nice tasting and was not greasy at all. It was easy to make. The packet instructions said 20 mins  in the oven, but for my oven took about 25-30 mins. All in all it was a easy main to prepare and great for a lazy vegan dinner.

Before baking

Before baking

After baking

After baking

To get into the spirit of eating a British classic I thought I would prepare some sides to go with it. So I made Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic and Mushy Peas. For the roasted vegetables I didn’t add the lemon, thyme and garlic until 15 mins before they were ready. A lot of recipes suggest added fresh thyme when you first put in the potatoes, but I saw on a Jamie Oliver show recently, that he recommends not added them till towards the end, as the oven will burn them to a crisp. It turned out really well this way. The lemon flavor was also really nice and everyone said they preferred this flavor to my usually roasted vegetables. Below is the recipe.

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Lemon & Thyme Roasted Chat Potatoes, Carrots & Garlic (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1kg chat potatoes

5 carrots

1 garlic clove

olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon

sprigs of thymeDSC02607

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cut the potatoes in halves, chop the carrots in chunks and place in a baking tray. Coat with olive oil, sea salt & pepper, and cook for 30 mins or until you can at least get a fork through the potatoes.DSC02609

3. In the mean time remove skin from garlic and juice the lemon.

4. After 30 mins add the garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Add more olive oil if the potatoes and carrots are too dry. Cook for a further 15 mins or until vegetables are slightly browned.

*Serves 4

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As for the Mushy Peas, I got the recipe from here. I really love this recipe. It was my first time making mushy peas and they just tasted so fragrant and delicious. Only thing I had to change was use shallots instead of eschalots, nutlex instead of butter and used vegan chicken stock. Only thing I would do differently next time is make more, because this portion size was not enough. It was so morish. It was also really easy and quick to make.DSC02612

Firstly I cooked diced shallots and garlic in nutlex for few minutes.

Then add the stock and brought it to a boil. After that I added the peas and cooked them until they were soft.

Once the peas were soft, I added the apple cider vinegar and mint leaves and cooked for 1 more DSC02614minute.

Lastly, used the bar mix to make the peas mushy and then it was ready to go.

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Another vegan product I just tried today is Macro Moroccan Pumpkin Dip (Free from Dairy). It is also gluten free and free from artifical colours, flavours or preservatives. The fact that their are no artifical preservatives is really great since most of the dips available have something in it to last longer. I do prefer to make my own hummus and other dips, but when you are in a hurry its always great to have good products like this on hand.

Today I made a snack pita with this dip. I just used half a pita bread and filled it with the pumpkin dip, cucumber, baby spinach and mint leaves and toasted in the sandwich press. It was a great healthy snack to have between lunch and dinner.

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Pumpkin, Sage, Walnut and ‘Ricotta’ Lasagna

I had half of the Tofutti ‘ricotta’ left over  from the other day and I didn’t know what to do with it. I haven’t eaten ricotta in 3 years, so I haven’t been missing it much. I have tried out vegan ricotta before and for me its been a great substitute, except when you want to make something sweet. I came across this Taste recipe today, Pumpkin, sage and ricotta lasagne, and decided this was something I would like to try.

I adapted the recipe, so that the ricotta was more of a cheesy sauce with walnuts. Since it was more runny it helped to cook the past sheets a lot better. The only thing I didn’t do was put some of this sauce down the bottom, so the bottom pasta sheet was a bit hard. Other then that it was decadent and delicious. On the side I made some Spicy tomato vegetables to complement the sweet lasagna. As for the pumpkin seeds, I baked them with maple, cinnamon and sea salt.

I’m stuff now and jealous that Marco is taking the left overs to work. My boyfriend isn’t vegan or vegetarian, but as he says, he likes to sample the best of both worlds. I have completely stopped cooking meat at home now, so he only has it out or when someone else cooks for him. But even he has noticed the difference he is feeling, so he doesn’t mind living in a meat free house anymore. By the way sorry I don’t have better pictures. Marco and my mum couldn’t wait to eat tonight.

Pumpkin, Sage, Walnut and ‘Ricotta’ Lasagna (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

1 x packet instant lasagna sheets (use gluten free if you prefer)

1.2 kg butternut pumpkin

2 tablespoons olive oil,

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

sea salt & black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg,

1 tablespoon chopped sage

12 whole sage leaves

100 g vegan butter (I used Nutlex)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.

Ingredients for ‘Ricotta’ Cheesy Sauce:

215g vegan ricotta (I used Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta)

4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup soy milk

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees and chop the pumpkin.

2. Place pumpkin in a baking tray. Add olive oil, chili flakes, salt & pepper and cook for 25 mins (or until softened)

3. In the meantime prepare the ‘ricotta’ cheesy sauce. In a processor add all the ingredients for the sauce and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Once pumpkin is cooked, leave to cool. Then place in a processor and add nutmeg, chopped sage, salt & pepper. Blend till it is pureed.

Butternut pumpkin mash

5. Take a 8×8-inch square baking dish (or around this size) and first add a layer of the cheese sauce. Next add the lasagna sheets (2 1/2 for my dish) and then add the mashed pumpkin. Continue layering till all the pasta sheets have been used and top with both pumpkin and ricotta cheese sauce. Bake lasagna in the oven for 35 mins.

6. A few minutes before serving, take a small pot/pan and heat butter whole sage leaves and chopped walnuts for 2 mins.

7. Serve lasagna with a drizzle of the butter sage sauce on top.

*Serves 4

Spicy Tomato Vegetables (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small red onion, chopped

2 tablespoon tomato paste

8 black olives

1 large zucchini, chopped

1/2 large broccoli, chopped

pinch of sugar

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take a pan and heat olive oil, then add garlic, red onion and tomato paste and cook for 2 mins. Add sugar if the tomato paste is very bitter. 

2. Add a bit of water if dry then add the black olives zucchini,  and broccoli and cook till the vegetables are tender and season then serve.

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

Butternut pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more to coat)

sprinkle of cinnamon and sea salt

Method:

1. Wash pumpkin seeds, then place on a tray and add the rest of the ingredients to the seeds.

2. Roast for 3 mins or until crispy.

Asian Salad with Seaweed Noodles

Today I didn’t think I would having anything interesting for lunch. I’ve been busy procrastinating for my Italian exam for next week, which I’m really not looking forward to. I want to try out these Seaweed Jelly Noodles I bought the other day, since I knew my boyfriend might be a bit freaked out if I told him that was for dinner. They are from Korea, gluten free and can be found in the fridge section at Asian supermarket. I bought mine from Hanaro Mart, in Sunnybank. This supermarket also has legumes of Australian origin for really cheap.

I was planing on using the noodles in a stir fry, but then I read the back of the packet and it said to use it for salad. So I attempted my first Asian salad. I looked for inspiration online, but I didn’t have any of the ingredients to make a typical Asian salad dressing. So I tried to combine a few things and it tasted quite good.  The rest of the dressing can be kept to marinate tofu or added to stirfry. These seaweed noodles are actually quite crunchy. I thought they would be more like bean noodles. I ended up adding some roasted seaweed, that  I also discovered the from Hanaro. I’ve been putting it on everything. It’s so addicted.

Asian Salad with Seaweed Noodles (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 small red capsicum

1 carrot

1/2 cucumber

small segment of cabbage

100 grams seaweed noodles

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce

1 tablespoon  lemon juice

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

Method:

1. Thinly slice all the vegetables into matchsticks.

2. Place the Noodles into cold water for 2 mins, then strain.

3. Take a  small bowl to make the dressing. Combine sesame oil, mushroom soy, lemon juice and sweet chili sauce. (Makes 1/4 cup of dressing)

4. Dry toast sesame seeds in a pan.

5. Combine noodles  and vegetables in a large bowl and  2 tbsp of the dressing.

6. Serve two dishes with toasted sesame seeds on top.

*Serves 2